Our stuff is for people that take a cheeky and provocative attitude towards fashion and accessories.

Feature by Simone Gray | 15 Jul 2006

The Merchant City in downtown Glasgow has in recent years undergone a huge reputation shift. It is now well established as the home to some of Glasgow's trendiest bars and restaurants. However, on the retail side of things, as Argyle Street snakes down to Trongate and the East End, many of the shops you find nearer the riverside are known more for providing pound stretching value rather than exclusive fashion finds. But, as you veer deeper into the heart of the old merchant district, there lies a corner shop with a difference that the owner and creative director Sarah Raffel firmly believes has an attitude and style that perfectly fits the character of this part of town, and is elevated to a level beyond simply yet another retail space or gallery.

By definition Brazen is not simply a jewellery shop. As a Glasgow Art School graduate, Sarah recognised the fact that a space for upcoming jewellery designers and makers to promote their work in an accessible gallery style was sorely needed. After winning funding from a business plan, it was time to turn their idea into reality and so the hard work, and the fun, began as the team set to work creating what is now an undeniably unique, retro, boutique-style space. Beyond the sparkling showcases and a partition wall, is the secret that Sarah believes makes them different. Much of the work is created on site. There are studios for up and coming designers that can provide hot bench space for up to 16 jewellery makers to utilise for a minimal fee, allowing makers the rare freedom to continue their passion and freely create their brand of specialist and contemporary costume jewellery.

Logistically, as the backdrop for up to 35 designers' work, the setting, design and shoestring, graduate budget offered the Brazen team a huge challenge. It was close friend and fellow graduate Nicola Coller's ethos of high impact, high quality and low cost interior design that offered a feasible solution and helped create a funky space tinted with retro cabinets and mirrors, hand painted floors and deliciously kitsch motif blinds which all work to successfully communicate the Brazen style.

The pedestals dotted throughout the shop hold many unexpected design ideas. There are a stunning and unusual variety of mediums used in the design of the jewellery and accessories including Stirling silver, 18-carat gold, woods, resins and steel. "Our stuff is for people that take a cheeky and provocative attitude towards fashion and accessories," Sarah states, "our aim is to go further than any high street retail outlet to ensure that the client has a much greater understanding of the process of actually making jewellery. Because our shop is quiet and small, we can take the time out to chat to clients and give them an insight into the designers and their motivations."

As well as their own range that seems to be growing in profile in the fashion world, there are many pieces of work from designers that are to be looked out for and followed into the future. One of them is Ambre France; her jewels are engaging and distinctive - some of her rings hold mischievous inscriptions like, "With this ring I thee bed" or "Pull my finger." Brazen is also the exclusive stockist in the UK of the ever-popular bags and accessories by Dutch duo Vlieger & Vandam. The duo's 'Guardian Angel' bags, in leather with front made of woolfelt, all characterised by the iconic three-dimensional silhouette of revolvers and kitchen knives, are already considered cult objects of design.

In truth you would be hard pushed to find a store that holds so many exclusive design gems. Onward happy shoppers.

58 Albion Street, Merchant City, Glasgow.